Getting stopped by the police can be a scary experience, especially when you have alcohol in your system. A competent DUI attorney could explain the process of Leesburg DUI stops and arrests, in addition to your rights when dealing with law enforcement during a field sobriety test.
Whenever an officer is investigating a potential DUI, they must abide by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which gives citizens the right to be free of unlawful and unreasonable searches and seizures.
Officers in Leesburg must apply the standard of “reasonable articulable suspicion,” or RAS, when deciding whether to pull someone over. An officer’s RAS does not need to be strong enough to find someone guilty of a traffic or equipment infraction. It must simply reflect law enforcement’s reasonable belief that a traffic violation or criminal activity occurred.
This applies in DUI cases when an officer decides to pull someone over for:
If a court finds that the reason an officer pulls someone over meets the reasonable articulable suspicion standard, it is deemed valid and admissible. Otherwise, a well-versed attorney in Leesburg could work to prove that the officer did not meet the RAS standard when pulling over and arresting the defendant.
DUI stops and arrests often follow a similar pattern, with different procedures for varying times of the day and week, which a dedicated attorney could explain. On a Friday or Saturday night, for example, the officer may initially approach a traffic stop with suspicions about drinking and driving from the very beginning. On a Tuesday afternoon or Sunday morning, however, their thought process may be different.
The officer is going to ask for license and registration and, if they notice the odor of an alcoholic beverage, will typically react by asking the person:
This conversation helps the officers to confirm whether they smelled alcohol on the driver’s breath.
At some point, the officer may ask the person to step out of the vehicle and direct them to move between the police cruiser and their vehicle and continue the conversation there. The driver will be asked to willingly perform field sobriety tests and to take a preliminary breath test (PBT). Depending on the results, the driver may be asked to go to the station for another, more reliable, test.
Many people believe they can reasonably refuse an officer’s request to exit their vehicle. However, the Supreme Court is clear in the case of Pennsylvania vs. Mimms that upon a proper stop, the officer can require a person to exit the vehicle and continue the line of questioning pursuant to the traffic stop.
It is important to note that while required to exit the vehicle upon law enforcement’s request, a person is not compelled at this point to submit to a PBT or perform field sobriety tests in Virginia. These tests are voluntary, but law enforcement officers are not required to share that during DUI stops and arrests in Leesburg and elsewhere.
Drinking and driving is taken very seriously in the State of Virginia. You have rights at every point of contact with law enforcement officers. An aggressive attorney could help ensure those rights are respected during Leesburg DUI stops and arrests and advocate for the dismissal of any evidence gathered at the expense of your rights. Get in touch with us today.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law